Jump to content

Overnight parking in rest areas

Recommended Posts

Is it (and if so where?) legal to stay at interstate rest areas overnight? By the way, semi rigs do it every night, all night; is it legal for them and not for RVers?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Morning - Interstate rest areas are maintained and funded by the Departments of Transportation of the state governments. Each state has its own laws, rules and/or regulations regarding what is or isn't allowed at their rest areas. If you will be travelling in a particular state, I would suggest logging on to the web site for the Department of Transportation for the state for information regarding that state. For instance, Caltrans (California's Department of Transportation) has a website with a list of all 86 Caifornia Rest Areas, their location, and the amenities at each. You will also find a link to a page with California's rules and regulations that pertain to overnight RV parking. Texas, as another example, allows parking for up to 24 hours at any of their Rest Areas, Parking Areas or Roadside Picnic Areas. I have noticed in travelling up and down I 95 on the East Coast, that the various rest areas have signs that indicate whether or not overnight parking is permitted. I have also seen websites that provide this information (www.overnightrvparking.com/database) and I believe that Explore the Next Exit before you Exit and Exit Now, two publications, might also contain information regarding overnight RV parking. I hope this information is helpful. Vicky Ferrari, Interim Chair, Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hawkeye, the short answer is YES...... The long answer is more complicated...... here goes...

One. Yes you can stay in about any ''rest area'' The great limitation can be ''HOW LONG YOU CAN STAY''

Two. Some states and some ''rest areas'' limit your stay to four or six hours max. This is to prevent folks

''camping'' in the rest areas.

Three. I have been motor homing since 95 and I will sometimes overnite in a rest area and I have yet to be

asked to leave or not ''take a rest'' in the rest area by anyone. Some states have designated areas especially

for motor homes to park. As my memory will tell me, some have dump stations and potable water available also.

Four. Here are some common courtesies when you stay in a rest area....


Do not put your awning out. (a semi might remove it for you)

Do not extend your rooms or your slide outs.... (see above)

Do park in the area designated for RV/SEMI....

Do be ready to sit beside a semi that is running a ''refer unit'' all night.

Personally, I try to find a pre-level place so I dont have to use my jacks.

Do not ''set out the grill and the cooler'' beside your coach. (see above)

I usually sleep with my jeans on so that if I am ever asked to move or leave, all I need to do is leave.

This is important and is a good idea where ever you park.

If someone knocks on your door and says they are a person of authority (police, sheriff) or any faction of the



If they refuse to do this tell them you have two friends that are still asleep and cant be disturbed. Tell them that

Mr. Smith and Mr Wesson are very cranky when roused from slumber. Dial 911 if available....

I do not tell you this to frighten you and I have never had an incident like this to happen to me in my fourteen years of

camping but it can happen....

Rest areas are generally patrolled by the local highway patrol and are very safe areas to ''take a rest'' in and they are

usually very safe.

remember............... Limit your stay.......DO NOT MAKE A MESS......DONT ''CAMP'' IN A REST AREA....

Other good places to ''overnight'' are FLYING 'J' truck stops or about any ''truck stop'' and Wal-Mart stores but it is a

good idea to ask the manager if it is ok to overnight in their parking lot. Here again, no awnings, no slide outs, nothing

on the ground.........

If you use this advise that I have given, you will have to pay me ten cents for said advise. You can pay me the next

time you see me. Good advise is expensive ,,,,,,,,,,, dumb looks are free........ lol....

seajay the sailor man

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Wayne77590

All the above, but here is some information on Ohio.

The Ohio Turnpike offers this:

"Five service plazas have overnight parking for travel trailers or RV's There are a limited number of spaces which are available on a first come, first serve basis. Reservations are not accepted.

A wastewater dump station and potable water are available for a $5.00 fee at the Indian Meadow Service Plaza (located westbound between exits 25 and 13). Please pay service station.

Electrical outlet, a wastewater dump station and potable water are available for $15.00 fee at the following service plazas:

Vermillion Valley Service Plaza (located east bound beteween exits 135 and 142); Middle Ridge Service Plaza (located westbound between exits 145 and 135); Brady's Leap and Portage Service Plaza (located between exits 193 and 209). Please use the self-pay machine located in the RV lot.

The Travel Trailer facilities are open for occupancy between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. the following day. they may be occupied for one night only.

Vermillion Valley/Middle Ridge: 20 & 30 AMP; 50 AMP-240V

Brady's Leap/Portage 20 & 30 AMP; 50 AMP-240V"

The above is taken from the Ohio Turnpike Travel Guide.

In those states where overnight parking is restricted, there are signs to that affect. My theory is to tell the officer that I was to tired to go on further and had to rest for safety's sake. I also see a lot of truckers using them for long periods during the daytime, so they don't get ticketed for "overnight." I guess they also figure it's better to get a couple hours sleep than no sleep at all.

There is a section on this site pertaining to good rules for over nighting in a parking lot.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is excellent advice and information above. I'll just add our own experience with rest stops and other stopping places.

We have stayed at rest stops along the roads all over the US and a few in Canada. We have never been asked to leave. If an area is posted, we'll not push the issue unless we are desperate for a place to stay. Most rest areas are noisy and too close to the highway for peaceful sleep but we have an eye out for the good ones where you are away from traffic. Then if we can get an end spot next to a curb, we'll put out our slides.

We like Wal-Mart if we can find one. We always ask and make a purchase - you always need something from Wal-Mart. On my way in to ask permission, I will round up stray carts near where we are parked and return them to a cart corral. Likewise, any cart I bring out will go back to a cart corral.

We have stayed at Casino's, city parks, grocery stores, Lowe's, Home Depot, Linens and Things in a shopping center (there's a story- below) and on a bowling alley parking lot. We've stayed on the parking lot of closed shops and stores, once on the parking lot next to a closed factory. We usually do this when we are traveling long distance and we don't make a practice of stopping until shortly before dark so it isn't like we are staying for half a day. Likewise, we are out early in the morning, not lingering after business starts to pick up in the morning. We usually stop after driving for a while in the morning and have breakfast. On two occasions, we were able to park on museum parking lots before visiting the museum the next day. We had permission in both cases. In all cases, we try to park as far from the store entrance as we can. Think about your exit also. Try to park so that you can't be parked in and not be able to get away in the morning when you want to.

We have air leveling so don't have to worry about jacks and can level without worrying about damaging the surface. A previous coach had jacks and if I wasn't careful, they would punch through asphalt. Can't be doing that on a parking lot! If we have a spot where there will be no traffic on the drivers side, we'll put out our slides. We have two slides on the drivers side of the coach. We use our generator as necessary but are careful to try to shut it down before we go to bed for the night. We even do this in truck stops. During the high fuel prices last summer, we noticed many of the truckers were shutting down at night. This was a welcome change.

We have never had a problem with vandalism or with any threatening activity of any kind. We are very careful to keep the toad, bays and our door locked at all times. If possible we'll park under or near lights for added security. A recent article mentioned keeping the toad keys on your bed stand and using the alarm button if there is a problem. I consider this a good idea.

One word of advice I haven't see above, if you are the vehicle driver don't imbibe in any adult beverages. You wouldn't want to explain to a HP officer that you couldn't drive because you had been drinking and were in no shape to drive. This could be cause for a long discussion and/or a signed note from officer friendly! You could try the line that you are just too tired to drive and wanted to get some sleep. It would be hard for an officer to insist on your driving under those circumstances.

We have found excellent parking at rest stops along I-70 in Kansas where they have loops for the dump station and you can park along the loop without obstructing traffic. That keeps you away from the trucks and the loops are usually farther from the highway. There are large unpaved truck parking lots along I-80 in Wyoming. We were parked at one of these one evening and watched a herd of antelope gather together and move up into the hills nearby as we ate our dinner. I-80 in Utah has rest stops well off the highway about an hour west of Salt Lake City. You'll find favorites along your frequent routes of travel and develop an eye for other good spots.

Our stop at Linens and Things was in New Jersey, just south of New York City. We were looking for a stopping spot. It was after dark and we were totally lost. We had encountered a RR bridge we just barely got under. We got turned around and back to the shopping center we had passed earlier. This time we pulled in. The emptiest part of the lot was next to Linens and Things. We had a good nights sleep which was ended at about 6:15 a.m. when the manager knocked on our door. He was very nice but asked us to move soon because we were parked where he instructed his employees to park. I told him we would do so. He asked where we were headed and I told him Connecticut. I explained that we were lost in the dark last night and couldn't find our way back to the highway. He gave me directions to get back to the highway and then added that we should be on the interstate ASAP because we wanted to be across the Tappanzee Bridge before 7:00 a.m. or it would take us several hours stuck in a traffic jam to get across. I thanked him and we got on the road in about 10 minutes. Breakfast was in Connecticut that morning!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

One last word of warning about over night at Wal-Mart. Staying there can be very expensive. Take into

account that a nice campground costs about thirty dollars, more or less. Staying at ''Wallyworld'' is free.

Yeah sure. Every time we ''over night'' at Wal-Mart I am lucky to get out for less than one hundred dollars.

When we stay at Wal-Mart Willa feels it is her duty to ''GO SHOPPING'' for a little while. Once she came back

with a gold and diamond ring for only seven hundred dollars. (WOW SUCH A BARGAIN) It was on sale and she

just couldn't resist it. She also bought some groceries and two ''TIKI TORCHES. Another problem is that these

places never close. We can pull in at mid night and Willa will go shopping.

Just a word to the wise from a person that has been there and done that.

This advise is free ....

Seajay the sailor man.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Lucky you aren't parking at Zales or some other regular jewelery store. Maybe you should try Lowe's or Home Depot, at least Willa would find something you could use! Louise would be happy if we parked at Baskin-Robbins!

One thing just came to mind. I was watching the news and there are 5 states that are facing midnight deadlines on their budgets. Most rest areas I am familiar with are state run. In the past we have seen some that are closed for remodeling and sometimes just closed with no repair activity showing. I suspect highway rest areas are likely to be high on the budget cutting list and we may begin to see more of them closed. I don't know of any source that lists closed rest areas other than going to individual states department of transportation web sites. Does anyone have a source that lists those rest areas that or closed? I see that the Next Exit has an on-line version but do they keep up to date on closed rest areas?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...